05-04-2012, 07:56 AM #1
Panhandle TDC's got too much BP money?
In Port St. Joe, more than $1,200 in Visa gift cards are still unaccounted for after the Gulf County TDC offered them as cash prizes to the winning contestants of a barbeque cook-off held March 17. The event fizzled: Planners set a goal of 25 teams competing, but only 10 signed up and just two of those actually showed up.
And it’s certainly not the first time the Gulf TDC has had egg on its face. In February, county commissioners fired TDC Director Tim Kerigan after an audit showed the agency was extremely sloppy with tax dollars — a problem that pre-dated Kerigan’s tenure, and which extends to the oversight of the Gulf County Commission. The whole situation appears to be rife with conflicts of interest and a lack of leadership.
Meanwhile, to the west in Okaloosa County, TDC Director Mark Bellinger resigned Wednesday after it was revealed he used bed-tax revenues to buy a $710,000 yacht. Bellinger said he bought the boat in December as a promotional tool. County officials, though, discovered the purchase only Friday when the finance director received the boat’s title transfer in the mail.
05-04-2012, 07:58 AM #2
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office was searching for Mark Bellinger late Thursday after he was reported missing by his wife.
Bellinger, 52, is the former director of the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council. He reportedly left a suicide note at his house in Destin, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.
His wife called the Sheriff's Office about 3 p.m. Thursday after she found the note, according to Sheriff's Office call records.
“We are gravely concerned for his safety,” Undersheriff Don Adams said Thursday night. “Our one and only priority is Mark Bellinger’s personal safety.”
Bellinger’s car, a 2011 four-door silver Subaru Legacy with Florida license tag 262 NFS, also was missing.
Deputies issued a “be on the lookout” bulletin for the car from Pensacola to Tallahassee.
“It’s our hope and our prayer that he is safe,” Adams said. “We really don’t know at this point where he is.”
As authorities searched for Bellinger, investigations of the yacht purchase were broadening.
“The Sheriff’s Office investigation is growing because everything is on the table,” County Commission Chairman Don Amunds said. “We are flat looking at everything.”
Commissioner Bill Roberts said Thursday that he is worried about what the investigations eventually will reveal.
“I hate to say it, but there’s no telling what we’ll find,” he said.
05-04-2012, 08:00 AM #3
05-04-2012, 01:52 PM #4
He also used TDC money to buy a $750,000 house in Kelly Plantation.
Has anyone taken a hard look at our TDC's books?Basically, I'm just passing through on my way to Australia.
Where exactly are the 1,000,000 plantings to enhance the dune system? This is the kind of beach enhancement I would be in favor of. I'm curious where this was done because I don't remember seeing any county plantings on the stretch of beach between Seagrove to Seaside. Is there a program for getting free dunegrass plants?
05-04-2012, 05:17 PM #6
Former TDC Director Dead
The former director of the Okaloosa Tourist Development Council (TDC) was located May 4th around 11:30 a.m. by police in Pelham, Alabama but died a short time later at a nearby hospital of a suspected drug overdose.
52-year-old Mark Bellinger of Stonebridge Road in Destin had been facing a charge of grand theft by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and was the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the agency in connection with bed tax and possibly BP monies believed stolen from the TDC.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office had launched an investigation into Bellinger’s financial dealings on Wednesday, May 3rd, after learning Bellinger had admitted to Okaloosa County Commissioners that he’d made the unauthorized purchased of a $710,000 yacht with TDC funds. Thursday afternoon investigators learned Bellinger had left a suicide note at his home and disappeared, prompting an extensive search.
Meantime, an arrest warrant was issued Thursday after OCSO investigators gathered probable cause that Bellinger had stolen public funds to pay for his $747,000 Destin home.
A local search to locate Bellinger was unsuccessful, but authorities were able to determine that he may be in the Pelham Alabama area around eleven a.m. this morning. Police officers located Bellinger at 11:20 a.m. and took him to a nearby hospital where he later died.
The Sheriff’s Office investigation into Bellinger’s financial dealings as TDC Director will continue. The Florida Auditor General’s Office will be assisting.
By yippie in forum Local Government and GroupsReplies: 1Last Post: 04-21-2008, 05:13 PM
By MattChrist Live in forum Local Government and GroupsReplies: 8Last Post: 03-17-2008, 10:36 AM
By SHELLY in forum Local Government and GroupsReplies: 23Last Post: 01-25-2008, 01:10 PM
By Smiling JOe in forum All About SoWalReplies: 8Last Post: 11-23-2007, 05:49 PM